Ridgefield Raptors

Although the large number of Great Blue Herons was the first thing that caught my attention at Ridgefield Tuesday, the more I drove around the more I noticed how many raptors there were, particularly Red-Tailed hawks.

The first one I shot grabbed my attention because of the glow of the winter sun reflecting off his feathers and tail:

Red-Tailed Hawk In Tree

Of course, it was hard to ignore this Red-Tailed Hawk sitting mere feet away from the road, apparently oblivious, if downright disdainful of humans sitting in their cars:

Hawk On Stump

But there was also a considerable number of Red-Tailed Hawks sitting in the open fields.

Hawk On Ground

And if you looked hard enough, you could even find a Northern Harrier or two, or three.

Harrier On Ground

It Could’ve Been a Bad Day

Thursday I had a dental appointment in Vancouver to have a old crown removed and preparation for a new crown that I wasn’t looking forward to. There’s nothing like several shots in the mouth and an hour and a half in the dentist’s chair to make your day uncomfortable, though it still seems preferable to a bad toothache.

Leslie came along because she wanted to have dinner with her nephew who goes to Reed College in Portland. And, of course, I wanted to visit the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. At least no one can accuse us of not maximizing our use of gasoline.

When I arrived for my dental appointment it was dark and dreary with threatening clouds hanging overhead. Amazingly when I came out nearly two hours later the clouds were burning away and by the time I got to Ridgefield it was as sunny as I’ve seen since I left Colorado a week ago.

The first thing we saw when we entered the refuge was a Great Egret (I think) foraging in a pond right next to the road. It’s the first one I’ve managed to get a picture of this year:

Great Egret (or Snowy Egret)

Perhaps not surprisingly, I also saw a Yellow-Headed Blackbird, the first time I’ve ever managed to see one at Ridgefield, a bird listed as rare in Western Washington, though there seems to have been a colony at Ridgefield the last few years. I have little doubt I would never have seen it if I hadn’t just seen one in Colorado last week.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Perhaps the hit of the day, though, was this little barn swallow who had built her nest inside the observation shelter and waited impatiently on the railing waiting for us to leave so that she could feed her very noisy chicks:

Barn Swallow with Insect

We ended our visit with a 1.5 mile walk, but then had to hurry to make our dinner appointment. Leslie bought us all a New Orleans’ style dinner that almost made the dental work bearable, or, a the very least, forgettable.

Marsh Wren

Here’s my favorite shot from Thursday, one that took considerable patience, not to mention multiple blurry shots, to get:

Marsh Wren

The Marsh Wren is a 4 3/4 inch, “secretive” bird that avoids danger by constantly moving. It’s also very difficult to get a shot of, particularly a close-up. Most of my shots ended up blurry. The clear ones usually featured a rump shot.